FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Curious Alliances: Truth as Casualty in the US Presidential Election

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

The curious foursome of Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed, along with the Dr. Strangelove twins (John McCain and Lindsay Graham) have called for cooperation in protecting the United States against foreign cyber-attacks. This ‘double date’ under the guise of bipartisanship in the national interest, is complemented by very real political and institutional interests in play. The issue of Russian involvement in the US elections certainly is legitimate enough to investigate, but the domestic political stakes are high and the institutional turf defended, valuable. For McCain, it’s even more personal. The victim of torture in the Vietnam War McCain has always held Russia culpable for what befell him–never mind that his presence in Vietnam was due to the US launching a war on a country half a world away on the false pretexts of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  For McCain, it was all Russia’s fault.

McCain, Graham and much of the GOP military industrial complex establishment, want to ensure no détente is achieved by Trump and Putin. The CIA, whose raison d’etre (and budgets) was/were linked to the existence of an all-powerful USSR, argued to the very end that Glasnosts and Perestroika were merely devious plots by the Soviets to lull the US into a state of complacency. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan ignored them and proceed to cautiously make peace with Mikhail Gorbachev. To state the obvious, an institutional bias against Russia remains to this day in the CIA. This does not mean we should reject any reports or conclusions the CIA tenders, but they definitely should be thoroughly interrogated for their veracity. Moreover, there are legions of intellectuals and policy consultants whose sense of self-worth and market value is linked to the idea of an expansionist Russia.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump just won the presidency while losing the popular vote by some 2.7 million ballots. Predictably, he wants no investigation of Russian interference in the US election, which might further erode the already gossamer thin legitimacy by which his election barely hangs. Thus, he, and crony GOP political operatives, such as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, ipso facto dismisses any need for investigations. For them, them the legitimacy of the GOP presidential win, ‘trumps’ any potential national security concerns.

Thus, some curious alliances are in formation. Russia haters and inveterate cold warriors, many of whom make their livings in part or in whole from US tensions with Russia, will join Trump haters, for whom their hate for Trump, ‘trumps’ any concerns about truth, in the project to ramp up tensions between the US and Russia. They are joined in this project by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, who mirror the tactics used by Russia at home in smearing those perceived to be politically at odds with them. Moreover, they will be joined by Clinton operatives and Democratic National Committee establishment figures seeking to shift blame away from themselves for their horribly mismanaged presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Trump and the worst cynics in the GOP, will thwart any attempts to investigate what, if any, interventions Russia made in the US election regardless of evidence presented.

Managing public opinion is an old game and the US and Russia both, of course play it with their respective information services. Surveillance of communications of foreign leaders is equally common. Leaks of data are also as old as they are frequent in attempts to influence opinion and  policy. Moreover, political staffers in the US and Russia alike appear to waste no small amount of time on newspaper comment boards and sending out tedious tweets rather than conducting the people’s business. None of this by Russia should be ginned up to justify neo-McCarthyist attacks against those critical of those taking us deeper into new Cold War terrain. There are, however, actions, which if Russia took, would be very serious. Chief among them would be if Russia discovered a way to hack US voting machines. While difficult to do, given that many of these voting machines are not internet connected, the laxity of oversight of US elections and lack of uniformity of US election laws (in party by the design of the GOP as a strategy of voter suppression) might make it nonetheless possible in some states. Yet, while that is merely speculation at present, the “known, knowns” are that US elections the past decade have been ‘hacked’ in their own way, by a domestic group, known as the Republican Party of the United States itself.

In the end, expect the question of Russia’s possible involvement in the US presidential election to be almost entirely agenda driven. Most will have drawn their conclusions before any evidence is produced. The first casualty has already been truth. Smear attacks on people of goodwill seeking real answers to precisely what, if anything, happened, will again be the new normal, as if we learned nothing from 1950’s McCarthyism. It seems each generation, unfortunately, in the words of George Santayana, is indeed doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past…

More articles by:

Jeffrey Sommers is Professor of Political Economy & Public Policy in the Department of African &African Diaspora Studies and a Senior Fellow, Institute of World Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His book on the Baltics (with Charles Woolfson), is The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring: Politics of the People
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail